Envoy: Focus on helping undocumented Filipinos
Published on: Friday, February 22, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The long-standing Philippines’ claim over Sabah, which has not been given up, has not affected the close cooperation between Sabah and the Philippines governments to address many common issues, especially the undocumented Filipinos residing and working in Sabah.

Philippines Ambassador Charles C. Jose (pic) said after a courtesy call on Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, Thursday, that the claim is not actively pursued.

“Right now, the embassy is very closely cooperating with the Sabah Government to address our people’s concerns despite the claim having not been dropped. It is not actively pursued.

“So far, we in the embassy are more focused on helping the Filipinos in Sabah,” he said when commenting on whether the outstanding claim would have an effect on the willingness of the two governments to address the common issue of providing proper documents to those in Sabah.

Charles led a delegation to discuss several vital issues concerning the Philippines, particularly undocumented children, enhancing barter trade between Sabah and the Philippines and regional security, among others.

On the possibility of setting up a consulate here, he said the matter is being discussed in Manila and the embassy would implement whatever decision made.

“We welcome very much the decision of the Sabah Government to resume barter trade (between Sabah and the Philippines). On our part, we are sorting things out and putting up mechanisms to ensure we are able to cooperate regarding the barter trading,” he said.

Charles said the Philippines government is also hopeful on the recent establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) as a solution to peace and development in the Southern Philippines.

“Having this (BARMM) would be good, not only for the stability of the Philippines but also security of the country and the region, in terms of curbing the threat of kidnapping on the East Coast of Sabah. 

On the stand of Sulu rejecting to be part of the BARMM that may destabilise the region, Charles said Sulu is only one of the areas that do not want to be part of the BARMM but the majority voted to be part of it.

Although the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group is residing in Jolo and is a security threat to both sides, he is hopeful that BARMM will bring peace, prosperity and eliminate cross-border kidnapping for ransom. - Hayati Dzulkifli


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